Bob Wojnowski and John Niyo preview the Michigan vs. Michigan State rivalry with Chris Howard and Nick Hill. The Detroit News
Ann Arbor – Michigan has gone with a two-kicker rotation this season, and with three regular-season games remaining, it looks like that will remain the approach.
Michigan is 7-of-13 on field goal attempts this season – Jake Moody is 6-of-9 and Quinn Nordin is 1-of-4, including misses from 55 and 58 yards. Moody also missed from 58.
As the 14th-ranked Wolverines make final preparations for the in-state rivalry game against Michigan State on Saturday at Michigan Stadium, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said earlier in the week he wasn’t ready to comment on how the kickers could be used.
“We’ll see where it is this week,” Harbaugh said on the “Inside Michigan Football” radio show Monday night. “I’m not really ready to commit on who’s going to be kicking or doing all the kicking or if it’s going to be split again. We’re going to make the evaluation this week.”
Chris Partridge, Michigan’s special teams coordinator, has been an ardent supporter of the approach all season and explained on Wednesday why stats without context can be deceiving.
“Really, there’s three kicks we should have made, right? Iowa, Illinois and Maryland,” Partridge said Wednesday. “There’s three kicks that we could have easily not kicked, but we want to kick those.
“We want to kick the 58-yarders or the 55. We want to be able to kick those. We’ve got to make at least one of those. We could have easily have not kicked those kicks and punted or went for it like most other teams would have done and then we wouldn’t be 7-of-13, we’d be 7-of-10.”
Nordin missed a 55-yard attempt at the end of the first half against Iowa. Moody missed a 58-yarder before the end of the half at Penn State.
Why try them?
“Because we can make 'em,” Partridge said. “If you wanna get three points and you feel like you can make them, you want to have that weapon. We still have confidence that we can make 'em. We’ve made them in practice.
“It’s a tough kick, but if it’s a situation where it’s at the end of the half, you might as well. Two of them were right at the end of the half. So, OK, what are the percentages? Can you make this kick and get three points, or is it going to be a Hail Mary? Or do we want to risk something happening on the punt? So those are all things that have to be weighed out, but we feel like we can make them.”
Partridge said Nordin and Moody are fine with how the rotation has worked. They’re both perfect on extra-point attempts – Moody has made all 18 and Nordin all 17. They also haven’t complained about this disrupting their rhythm.
“We’ve got to go for what we feel and what they feel,” Partridge said. “We have two guys. They both stay hot, they both stay warm. It’s not like one of them is cold and we’re asking them to kick. They’re both ready to go, they’re both expecting to go. They know who’s up on the drive so it’s not like, ‘Hey, you’re up.' It’s done ahead of time, so they mentally they know if they’re up or not.
“Again, we haven’t been perfect, but we have two guys that are still, we think, high-level kickers.”
Michigan State at Michigan
Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
TV/radio: Fox/760, 950
Records: Michigan State 4-5, 2-4 Big Ten; Michigan 7-2, 4-2
Line: Michigan by 14